In the midst of a national conversation about the role mental health plays in public safety, Illinois has received federal approval to launch a $2 billion Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative to deliver better outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders.
With just three weeks until the scheduled adjournment of the General Assembly, budget negotiators seem to be getting caught up in partisan gamesmanship, instead of the fiscal nuts-and-bolts discussions needed to pass a state budget for Fiscal Year 2019.
Also during the week, students from more than 100 schools around the state traveled to Springfield as part of TECH 2018 to display their technology projects, and lawmakers joined firefighters and their families from across Illinois to participate in the 25th Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighting Medal of Honor Ceremony.
And Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz is urging Illinois firearm owners to file paperwork early to renew their FOID cards.
Behavioral health initiative announced
Better Care Illinois gives Illinois an opportunity to use $2 billion in Medicaid funds differently to increase the efficiency and quality of care for Medicaid populations. The state received the go-ahead during the week to launch the initiative from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Beginning July 1, Illinois can begin investing $2 billion of federal funds in 10 pilot programs to demonstrate better care alternatives and outcomes. The pilot programs will help Illinois address a variety of vexing societal problems that are impacted by behavioral disorders: mental health, violence, public safety, and opioid abuse.
Budget progress is slow
The four leaders and the Governor met again this week to talk about the budget. We continue to ask Democrat leaders to work with us to set a revenue estimate for the year, because budget talks need a starting point. It’s hard to understand their reluctance to do so. I hope no one wants another budget impasse. I am not sure our state could make it through another fiscal stand-off. It’s time to stop playing games. If we work together, we can come up with a fair and balanced budget in the three weeks left before we adjourn on May 31.
Students representing more than 100 schools across Illinois traveled to Springfield May 10 as part of the annual TECH 2018 program, a demonstration of school technology May 10 in the State Capitol. I was pleased to talk with students from Parkview Christian Academy in Yorkville about their “A Robotic Journey” project. Since 1990, students and teachers have set up demonstration tables at the Capitol to show state lawmakers how they are using technology in the classroom. TECH 2018 aims to increase awareness of the critical role technology plays in preparing students to succeed in today’s world.
Honoring fallen firefighters in Springfield
On May 8, Senate Republican lawmakers joined firefighters and their families from around the state who traveled to Springfield to participate in the 25th Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighting Medal of Honor Ceremony. The annual ceremony honors those who have made the supreme sacrifice, and those who have demonstrated extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism to protect fellow firefighters and civilians.
The Illinois Firefighter Memorial, which sits on the Capitol’s southwest lawn, lists the names of those who have given their lives in the line of duty. This year, two names were added: John “Mike” Cummins of the Homer Fire Protection District and Lawrence Matthews of the Village of Dolton Fire Department.
ISP recommending early renewal of FOID cards
With the first wave of the 10-year Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) cards expiring this summer, Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Leo Schmitz in urging Illinois firearm owners to file paperwork early to renew their FOID cards.
More than 50,000 FOID cards are expiring between June 1 and August 1. To allow for sufficient time to process the paperwork and issue a new card before it expires, ISP recommends gun owners submit their renewal applications at least one to two months in advance. ISP has already sent renewal notices to those whose cards will expire June 1. Applicants can visit the ISP’s Firearms Services Bureau website at ispfsb.com to renew online, or call ISP at 217-782-7980.